On July 24, ATZUM’s Task Force on Human Trafficking (TFHT) participated in the Knesset conference “Dialogue Between Cultures and the Fight against Human Trafficking: the Cultures of Eastern Asia” organized by Rachel Gershuni, Israel’s Ministry of Justice National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator. The Conference aimed to educate non-profit organizations and law enforcement and government officials about cultural differences that make identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking from East Asia challenging.
Israel is a destination country for low-skilled workers from Thailand, China, Nepal, the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka. Although many of these men and women come to Israel voluntarily for contract labor in the construction, agriculture, healthcare, and domestic care industries, some face conditions of forced labor. This includes unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, failure to pay wages, threats, sexual abuse and physical intimidation. Once in Israel, these men and women are vulnerable to being targeted for forced labor and sex trafficking. Additionally, labor recruitment agencies in Israel usually require workers pay recruitment fees of $1,000 to $10,000, a practice often resulting in workers suffering debt bondage.
When asked whether or not Ms. Gershuni considered the conference a success, she replied that she “fulfilled a personal dream by organizing this event,” and that it was the start of what she hoped would be a “larger conversation.” Ms. Gershuni plans to host the event in several other cities in Israel to continue to educate people about the importance of sensitivity to cultural differences while providing victims of trafficking with the assistance they require.